Saturday, December 18, 2010

Threat Levels

Sent to me by my father:

Threat Levels Raised

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats, and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved". Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross". The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940, when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance". The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards". They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide". The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender". The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing". Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides".

The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs". They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose".

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be alright, mate". Three more escalation levels remain: "Crikey!", "I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend" and "The barbie is cancelled". So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Realizations on Grant Morrison's Batman

(I'm publishing this clearly not-done draft so as to encourage myself to actually finish a post. If you read this blog or have it in your RSS feed, please let me know, so I can clean it up quickly.)

I have only just started realizing the depths of Grant Morrison's Batman run.

These are not new revelations for seasoned Batmanologists (Sims and Uzumeri) or even people who spend any amount of time discussing this on message boards/comments, but it is rather mind-blowing as I feel I have at least put some pieces together and have come to a deeper understanding of the meaning than just reading the entirety of someone else's conclusions. (Example: It's less mind-blowing to hear someone else predict that Oberon Sexton was the Joker, because I didn't put those clues together.)
( Also that is one run-on sentence up there.)

While I was incredibly impressed to discover the line "Batman and Robin Can Never Die!" back in his first few issues of JLA, that ended up being rather coincidental and not evident of his true long-form storytelling potential.

Darkseid Ur-bullet (This one only really works if Hurt is Darkseid, though I suppose if Hurt is the Devil and Darkseid the God of Evil, it's not impossible that they would meet and exchange notes.) It does explain how Hurt knows when he'll die
Drugging him
Creating faux Batmens
Hurt using the Thomas Wayne Bat outfit
Club of Villains
Asking/forcing him to join the black glove
Inverted crucifix
Having Joker serve as the hero in the fight against the black glove
David Uzumeri noted that if Batman Must Die (B&R13-15) is Batman RIP as Farce, then many of the other B&R arcs function that way as well: 1-3: Killing Joke, 4-6: Death in the Family/Under the Red Hood (probably the latter), 7-9: Ra's Al-Gul/Lazarus Pit stories/Blackest Night? (it does have a resurrected Batman and the Blackest Knight storyline is a clear pun), 9-12: Judas Contract? (Deathstroke using a puppet to attack Dick Grayson)

It also helps that I recently started thinking about how great Batman is as a character, at least in terms of the various stories he can be used in.
Dark Knight vs. B&R vs. Batman: Brave and the Bold vs. (acts serious, but with ridiculous elements) DCAU/Justice League Unlimited.
I started tearing up thinking about the "Divided We Fall" episode of Justice League Unlimited. (I should get the clip instead of poorly explaining in badly-written prose.) In it, Flash has defeated Luthor/Braniac by using the whole world to get a running start and hit the amalgamation with as much force as possible. He manages to remove Braniac from Luthor, but has been going too fast and is about to be lost to the Speed Force. After he disappears, a hole opens, from which eminates Wally's voice. He says that he doesn't think he can leave, but the team reaches in to help him. So Hawkgirl, Green Lantern, J'onn J'onz, Superman, and Wonder Woman (maybe in that order) are hand-in-hand with Shayera trying to pull Flash out and Wonder Woman acting as an anchor. Despite the fact that he clearly is going to make no difference, Batman holds onto Wonder Woman's arm and pulls as hard as he can.
That's what's so appealing about Batman. Even when his actions won't affect the outcome in the slightest, he gives it his all.
(Reword that to be more poetic and inspiring.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thoughts on Daytripper

I might do a more thorough posting down the road where I read through all of the issues I own and go through them one by one.
Instead I will just write down whatever comes to me and I can expand on it later.

Daytripper is a 10-issue series by the Brazilian twins Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon and published by DC's Vertigo Imprint.
Normally I would say who writes and draws, but I am not entirely sure. My best guess is Moon, as Ba's style is less realistic and more kinetic. Also, I believe I saw something on their website ( that shows a copy of the original art with "Series: Daytripper. Artist: Fabio (Crescent Moon Symbol)." Moon's style is less ethereal and ghostly than what I've seen in BPRD:1947 and Casanova. (As I write more, I will try to come up with better ways to describe precisely what I mean. This will surely be hard for me when it comes to aesthetics as I have no artistic education outside of music.)
I will also try to learn to have fewer digressions, though this blog is more conversational than an academic research paper.

Daytripper follows the life of one Bras de Oliva Domingos, a newspaper obituary writer. His occupation is important as every story has a tragic end. (Though I previously wrote that I don't intend this blog to be seen widely, I still wish to avoid spoilers.)
Each issue takes place at a different point in Bras' life. If I recall correctly, the chapter numbers are named after how old he is. The issues are not in chronological order, with the first featuring Bras in his early-to-mid 30s and the fifth issue featuring him at 11. I have yet to realize either the narrative reason for jumping around as they do or their explanation as to how each story ties in with the others. They obviously cannot all be "canon," as the ending of some stories clearly prevents events from playing out as the do in future stories.
As I stated earlier, each issue ends tragically. This becomes incredibly clear after the third issue (The math geek in me knows you can't establish if a trend is arithmetic or geometric without three examples. The economist in me knows you need 200+ samples for something to be statistically significant, but it'd be rather difficult and overly burdensome to get a sample size that large). What's amazing about the series is how well it can affect my emotions. Since I know the 22nd page will always end in tragedy, I start to tense up and nearly have an anxiety attack on page 18. Every time I hope that our heroes will be able to escape their tragic fate, and every time I am crushed. Perhaps the series is a reflection on the inevitability of death as well as the irrational reactions have despite the fact that we are always aware of that inevitability.

Matt Fraction has worked with the twins on the series Casanova. He stated (I think here: that he would be screwed once they realized that they did not need writers. While they already showed their writing chops on works like De:Tales, Ursula, and Pixu: Mark of Evil, Daytripper should make it clear to everyone else that they never needed writers.
The twins are able to make me care about the smallest moments and can emphasize the gravity of the largest. I was so surprised this past week, which featured the release of the Bendis-Coipel Siege #4 and Daytripper #6. In Siege, Iron Man uses a helicarrier as a bullet to defeat the Sentry. Not to disparage Coipel's art, but my reaction was simply, "meh." I love his work on Thor and have enjoyed numerous Bendis comics, but the use of the spectacle in superhero comics has severely diminishing returns. One can only do those huge, epic moves so many times before they wear themselves out. It's a case of one-upmanship with an easily-reached upper bound. It felt void (pun kind-of intended) of emotion and lacked any emotional resonance for me.

Daytripper #6 on the other hand made me gasp when I saw the issue's first tragic event. Though I read Siege before Daytripper, the former did not desensitize me to the latter. The scene in question was pulled off brilliantly, with Bras' wife giving a tour and finding a plume of smoke out in the far city. (If I figure out how to include scans, I might start doing that.) From there, we move to the panicked news room, where Bras is given the order to go to an airport. The "camera" on the bottom right hand page looks at Bras with some strong lighting in front of him. The page turn leaves the reader on an emotionally devastating plane crash. It struck me with a kind of emotional resonance than an actual plane crash would. Even someone answering a phone call later in the issue has more emotional resonance than found throughout Siege. It is clear that Ba and Moon are able to engage their audience because their heart and soul is truly in the work. That seems to be one of the clearest reasons to do creator-owned work. Beyond being able to capitalize further on any success of the property, one is able to invest himself or herself fully and produce a work of art.
(Scott McCloud and Roger Ebert have caused me to question what the true definition of art is. My definition would be more limited than McCloud, who defines art as anything produced that is not rooted in the desire to survive or reproduce. However, I find Ebert's belief that art requires an authorial control to be incredibly arbitrary, especially considering how collaborative film is and how any choices by the writers and directors must be filtered through an actor. I see literature and sequential art as the true auteur's media. Perhaps I will have a later chance to expound on that further.)

I'm not going to ensure that every post has a proper beginning, middle, and end. I will likely stop whenever I don't have a constant stream of thoughts to keep putting down. We'll see how that turns out.

First Post

Seeing as how it is 2010, this is by no means an attempt to get ahead of the curve by creating a blog. I honestly do not even intend for this to be a public forum. I see this blog as a tool for motivation.
The name for this blog came to me last night (5/17/2010) as I was thinking of the third volume of Scott Pilgrim, "Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness." While the term "Infinite Restoration" has apparently shown up in Bible discussions, this blog does not concern theology. I hope to use this as a place to keep my writing skills sharp, as I am currently in a situation where they could easily get rusty. I want to use it to set goals for myself and constantly improve and further myself. In a tangential way, that led me to the title, "Infinite Restoration." Perhaps Perpetual Restoration would have been better to hint at that constant state of self-improvement, but using the word Infinite just makes it sound cooler.

Most likely, I will use this blog to better flesh out any thoughts I currently have on comics or politics. I have plenty of opportunities to discuss politics in depth with friends, so this will probably be for more random tangents or incredibly obscure topics that I would otherwise not be able to discuss. I imagine when the next issue (#7) of Daytripper comes out, I will be able to expound on precisely why I feel it to be such an excellent series. (Of course, to do that, I probably need to read the magical realist works of authors like Garcia Marquez, as I will likely use the term "magical realism" when discussing the tone and Latin American adventures of Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon.)

I don't know the degree to which I should include biographical data. I will stick with saying I am an '09 college graduate currently looking to start a career. As I don't intend to promote this blog, there should be little danger in including that information. But I'll wait to see how things turn out.